The season might still be sunk for the Las Vegas Raiders, but it’s still victory Monday after their 22-16 overtime win over the Denver Broncos in Week 11. Players and coaches are fighting to prove that they deserve to stick around next year and all three of this week’s winners were in need of some big performances to boost their job security.
WINNER: Derek Carr
After a lackluster performance and an emotional press conference against the Colts, Carr needed a big day in Denver. It might have taken overtime but he logged his second 300-yard game of the season with 307 passing yards, which was also the most he’s had in a contest all year.
The Fresno State connection was on full display as Carr and Adams connected seven times for 141 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner to give the quarterback his 32nd game-winning drive and 26th fourth-quarter comeback in his career. But Carr was a winner beyond the stat sheet and even the playing field yesterday.
After publically calling out teammates essentially for lacking heart, Carr walked a fine line between being a leader and risking losing the locker room. However, after Sunday’s win, almost the entire team was chanting “DC” in the locker room, serving as evidence that he still has the respect of his peers.
Also, Las Vegas moved from the second overall pick in the draft to the fourth, according to Tankathon.com, with the win which would likely put them out of the Bryce Young and CJ Stroud sweepstakes. So, Carr did a lot to ensure he remains the Silver and Black’s signal caller on Sunday.
LOSER: Sam Webb
Webb’s first career start will go down as a learning moment. Russell Wilson picked on him early on as the rookie logged 21 coverage snaps and was targeted six times, allowing six completions for 108 yards before getting pulled. To make matters worse, he had three missed tackles, all in coverage, and finished as the Raiders’ lowest-graded defender (26.7) by Pro Football Focus.
It didn’t matter who the Broncos put on him as tight ends Eric Saubert and Greg Dulcich, wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton, and running back Melvin Gordon all caught passes with Webb in coverage. There’s nowhere to go but up from here and again, hopefully this is something the rookie can learn and grow from moving forward.
WINNER: Denzel Perryman
Partially because of injuries, but Perryman has been relatively quiet this season which isn’t ideal during a contract year. However, yesterday we got a glimpse of his 2021 form.
Against the run, he racked up five tackles, four of which were defensive stops, and had an average depth of tackle of 1.2 yards. That currently ranks tied for 13th, tied for seventh and tenth among qualifying linebackers for the week.
Last year’s Pro Bowler added two more stops in coverage and three pressures as a pass rusher, to finish as PFF’s fourth-highest-graded player at the position (91.2). Just about all of those figures are season highs and most are by a significant amount.
LOSER: Andre James
Yesterday was kind of the culmination of a few performances for James. His PFF grades have been sliding ever since the season opener and another sub-par performance against the Broncos will make it four games in a row he’s been below 60. He also got flagged for a penalty for the third time in two weeks.
Run blocking has never been the four-year pro’s strength and he’s currently PFF’s fourth-worst run blocker at the position this season with three backups sitting behind him. The instability on the rest of the offensive line has taken some of the heat off James, but he’s starting to look like part of the problem and less likely to be part of the long-term solution.
WINNER: Bilal Nichols
Nichols needed a good performance for a few reasons. One, he’s been one of the worst starting defensive tackles in the league after signing an $11 million contract in the offseason, and two, the Raiders brought in Jerry Tillery as some competition. One and two are obviously related and the latter might have lit a fire under Nichols as he had arguably his best game in the silver and black.
While he’s known as a pass rusher, the former Bear had a modest two pressures — one hurry and one QB hit — but it was his run defense that stood out. His three defensive stops as a run defender are tied for the most among defensive tackles and a 75.4 grade is good enough for ninth overall. Both of those are season highs and he ended a streak of four games without a stop.
LOSER: Neil Farrell Jr.
From an encouraging defensive tackle to a discouraging one. Farrell just edged-out Webb as the Raiders’ second-lowest graded defender and it was his run defense that was the biggest problem. A 28.6 mark against the ground game goes down as a season-low and means he was getting pushed around quite a bit.
As a pass rusher, he only got eight opportunities so it was a small sample size but he failed to record a pressure for the fourth time in five career games, leaving his season total at just one. Not an ideal showing a week after missing a game for what seemed like disciplinary reasons.